Hunter Gray hunterbadbear at earthlink.net
Tue Mar 23 05:33:09 MST 2004

Note by Hunter Bear:  3/23/04

I think it's timely to rerun these posts of mine.

Chili notes by Hunterbear:

This -- pc stuff -- certainly isn't going to put bread on workers'  shelves,
break chains, free oppressed peoples.

I hope we're finally seeing a vigorous reaction against this.  The Dawn has
to arrive sometime.

When the Christian Right and the Shadows of the Bosses have their fingers in
this game, we're more than just not surprised -- we're justifiably angry.
When the "liberals" and the "liberals' left" get into this, it's often too
easy for some on the Left -- not all --  to suddenly become inhibited.

There are, obviously, genuinely racist and ethnocentric and sexist and
homophobic and other such issues that need to be sensibly and effectively
addressed. Some lines are fuzzy, a great many are not either way -- but the
broadening swamp of censorship has gone far, far beyond any Reasonable
Reason. This pc crap -- and that's just what it is --  constitutes a direct
threat to creativity and to free  inquiry by free minds and to just plain
democratic health. It's certainly super dangerous when it attacks things
like books.

Whatever happened to the recognition that "democracy is a calculated
risk" -- placing its faith in the free minds of people to accept Truth and
reject Error?  That recognition still exists, fortunately -- along, of
course, with its strangling antithesis. And the ages-old struggle of
Humanity to get to the Light continues on the River of No Return.

Once again, James T. Farrell:  "Neither man nor God is going to tell me what
to write."

There are always some old roots in this kind of profoundly constricting
thing -- and the oft-relentless censorship directed against our Left comes
immediately to mind. Much of this current crop of poisonous p.c. growth,
however, does stem from the late '80s and the '90s when, unwilling to tangle
with the big  and bona fide social justice and peace issues, many cowardly
liberals and that pallid and prattling fringe of the Left got heavily into
the pc game -- where these things also blended easily with the frequently
cut-throat career politics in the Groves of Academe.

The Bushies have their Ashcroft and the FBI and the Patriot Act for their
proliferating hatchet jobs and corrals.  But let's never forget that many of
the many  nefarious things presently being done by Bush/Ashcroft et al. are
built directly on the foundations [e.g., 1996 "Anti-Terrorism" Act] laid by
Billy Clinton and his sanctimoniously hypocritical  and often cut-throat
groupies. Politically correct nonsense was a well-known and favorite device
of the Clinton Crowd -- frequently serving faithfully to divert constructive
activist attention away from the many basic justice and peace issues which
that administration not only failed to constructively confront but initiated
and/or magnified to the point of horror: horror quiet, and horror open.

Fraternally -

Hunter [Hunter Bear]

I wrote this [under my original name of John R Salter, Jr]  and published it
in The Dakota Student [University of North Dakota] on April 30, 1991 -- and,
as I knew it would, it angered several of our administrators.  It was
subsequently published in the May / June 1991 issue of the excellent
socialist journal, Against the Current, under the title, "Defeat Racism,
Don't Censor It."

I stand, of course, by every word I said, then and right to the present
moment. [March 23  2004]

Hunter Bear

SPEECH BAN WON'T END RACISM  -- John R Salter, Jr  [Hunter Gray]

I'm completely against any efforts to ban racist or sexist speech, or any
other speech, on college and university campuses -- or anywhere else.

I speak as both activist and academic and as one who has been involved in
social justice pursuits and teaching since the mid-1950s.

American Indians have traditionally recognized the right of everyone to be
heard -- no matter how unpopular or  even noxious the verbiage.  Whatever
its many limitations, my native state of Arizona has never deteriorated --
despite the presence of the copper bosses and the farming magnates, among
others -- into the sort of closed society once exemplified by Mississippi.
In part, at least, this has been because of the libertarian traditions of a
far-ranging frontier where "things open out instead of in" and where free
speech has generally, however grudgingly, been respected or at least

I've never known any effort anywhere to ban speech that  really "worked."
I've known few such efforts that, sooner or later, weren't turned against
the advocates of constructive social change.  Hell, look at human history.

Frankly, some of the most sanctimonious proponents of suppression of racist
and sexist speech in university settings have been, in my observation,
administrators whose real commitment to, say, affirmative action has been
Zero -- and who frequently have worked against anything of a tangible nature
that would increase the numbers and morale of women and minorities in
meaningful positions.  Other, more well meaning official folk, worry about
"negative speech," expressing their concerns in the context and style of a
prattling timidity that brings out the worst in everyone.

Here at the University of North Dakota, in a state and region where Native
Americans are the most substantial minority, our Department of American
Indian Studies offers several sections of a course called Introduction to
Indian Studies -- which fulfills a state teacher certification necessity and
also meets certain humanities and social science requirements.  About 350
students per year pass through these courses [I teach 200 or so personally];
the majority are Anglo, with a good number of American Indians and other
minorities represented.  In this classroom setting, academic dimensions are
heavily laced with confronting all kinds of people hang-ups and we deal with
these in a non-guilt-trip, "say what you please" hang-loose sort of

This works -- and often these students go on to take other courses of ours,
such as Contemporary Indian Issues or Federal Indian Law and Policy or
Plains Indians.  Common interests, common concerns, and common allies

And in many other sectors, in and out of the university setting, we
challenge all kinds of anti-people words and deeds and patterns.  We've done
it openly and candidly -- and without tearing people down.  Our efforts are
interracial and intercultural.

We've seen things improve enlightenment-wise with the students, considerably
so,  and with many townspeople.  But we still have a long, long way to go in
getting minorities and women hired in solid and influential university
positions.  Academics -- including academic liberals -- are  certainly often
harder to deal with than an essentially nice Anglo kid who has some

The kid is usually honest enough to face up and change, given a firm push or
two or three -- done in a friendly fashion.

We just have to keep fighting, all of us together, step by step.  But let's
not waste time on dangerous gimmicks like gag laws and regulations.  The
real prize lies "over the mountains yonder" and we can catch it -- if we
don't allow ourselves to be de-railed and diverted into the canyons.

[Editor's note:  Salter is chairman of the Indian Studies Department.]


In our Gray Hole, the ghosts often dance in the junipers and sage, on the
game trails, in the tributary canyons with the thick red maples, and on the
high windy ridges -- and they dance from within the very essence of our own
inner being. They do this especially when the bright night moon shines down
on the clean white snow that covers the valley and its surroundings.  Then
it is as bright as day -- but in an always soft and mysterious and
remembering way. [Hunter Bear]

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